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Owners: Small Hole Sunk MV Kearsarge

MV Kearsarge co-owner Peter Fenton examines his sinking dinner cruise ship in Sunapee Harbor last Friday. A small hole in a sea valve connection below the waterline started the sinking of the boat the day before. (Associated Press - Jim Cole)

MV Kearsarge co-owner Peter Fenton examines his sinking dinner cruise ship in Sunapee Harbor last Friday. A small hole in a sea valve connection below the waterline started the sinking of the boat the day before. (Associated Press - Jim Cole)

Sunapee — A small hole in a sea valve connection below the waterline started the sinking of the MV Kearsarge last Thursday while it was docked in Sunapee Harbor, the boat’s owners said yesterday.

But the water began coming in at a faster rate when it rose over three openings on the stern that are normally a couple of feet above the waterline. Within a few hours, the dinner cruise boat was partially submerged with its stern sitting on the bottom of the harbor in about 15 feet of water.

The 66-foot, steel-hulled boat was refloated Saturday using airbags and a heavy duty pump. The owners, the Fenton family, say they will have the boat repaired in time for the summer season. The MV Keasarge offers dinner cruises around the 10-mile long lake.

Tim Fenton said yesterday that the hole in the valve connection for one of the lines for cooling the engines started the sinking, but was not the only factor. With the bow resting on the beach in shallow water during the winter, the stern rides lower in the water.

As it began sinking, water entered through three openings for exhaust and ventilation, which are two to three inches in diameter, Fenton said.

When Fenton did his daily check of the boat around 4:30 that afternoon, everything looked normal. About three hours later, the stern was resting on the sand with some damage done to the rudders when it hit bottom.

Though there are bilge pumps and high water alarms on the boat, Fenton said no one was around to hear them. Fenton expects they will have to dry dock the boat to make repairs and have an inspection.

“We’ll have them go over it with a fine-toothed comb,” he said.

The boat is insured, but at this point there is no estimate on how much it will cost to repair it. The boat has two decks and water entered part of the lower deck.

Fenton said they appreciate the help in getting the boat out of the water and the support from the community.

“The community has been so nice. We really appreciate it,” he said.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.

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